In the Hot Seat with Alex Bowman

On account of three wins, Alex Bowman continues his strong ways in 2021. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

On account of three wins, Alex Bowman continues his strong ways in 2021. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Certainly, Alex Bowman continually impresses with his stellar performances during this NASCAR Cup Series season. By all means, the 28-year-old Tucson, Ariz. native consistently battles for wins on a weekly basis.

Moreover, Alex Bowman and his No. 48 Ally Chevrolet team keep themselves in the fight when it matters. All things considered, Bowman capitalized on late race moments at Dover and Pocono.

In this case, Bowman’s strong results and wheelman abilities rewarded him with a two-year extension with Hendrick Motorsports. With this in mind, the Arizonan reminds us about the importance of resiliency and determination.

Particularly, Bowman and the Hendrick Motorsports combination seem so ideal and perfect. Notably, Bowman persevered through tough times while answering the call for a high pressure moment.

Presently, Alex Bowman prepares for the Playoffs with this month’s regular season concluding races. Ahead of Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen, the seventh year seems ready for the Cup scene again.

On the whole, the Arizonan, who I interviewed in May, seems pumped and motivated for his latest championship efforts. Without further ado, let’s all get “In the Hot Seat with Alex Bowman” here on The Podium Finish!

Rob Tiongson : First of all, thank you for joining us once again here on The Podium Finish. Since we last talked, you’ve got two more wins, including Dover and that thriller at Pocono. How excited are you about the No. 48 team’s recent success, especially with the playoffs kicking off here soon?

As can be seen, Alex Bowman works his way toward the front of the pack. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

As can be seen, Alex Bowman works his way toward the front of the pack. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Alex Bowman : Yeah, definitely. It’s been a great year so far. You know, we’ve had some ups and downs. But winning three races already has been great. I think the overall strength of Hendrick Motorsports has been really good. And everybody on the 48 team is clicking really well right now. So, I’m excited to come back after a two week break and kind of get back to work.

Tiongson : I imagine that it would be pretty refreshing to have that two week break. It’s something that we probably didn’t get to have in your recent Cup seasons. From a driver’s standpoint, and just speaking plainly as yourself, how refreshing was it to be away from the scene?

Bowman : Yeah, it was definitely nice to be able to do what you want to do for two weeks and not have to kind of worry about getting to meetings and running all over the place and kind of the normal schedule that is Cup racing. So, I enjoyed it.

Obviously, I went sprint car racing for two weeks and had a lot of fun doing that. And yeah, it was definitely very refreshing to to be able to do that.

Tiongson : Let’s actually talk about that. You competed in five sprint car races with Ally partnering with your Alex Bowman Racing team during the Olympic break. How awesome was it to get out there? And in a way, race just for fun at these various dirt tracks that you competed in during the past few weeks?

Bowman : Yeah, it was really fun. It’s something I’d never done before. So I had always wanted to go winged sprint car racing and just never had the opportunity. So, to be able to go do that was a blast.

I kind of went into it with low expectations and just have fun and try to learn. So, I’m bummed we had a couple of rainouts. But other than that, you know, it was a really good two weeks and kind of got the hang of it a little bit there at the end. And we’re able to run pretty decent.

So I enjoyed the heck out of. It was really cool to have Ally on board for it. And it was just a blast. It was a ton of fun.

Tiongson : On a side note, did you get some advice from your teammate Kyle Larson? Or did you just kind of go into this like, “You know what, I’m gonna have some fun with it, not really gonna care about the results, and just go out there and do what I can?”

Bowman : Yeah, I think every NASCAR fan in the world told me to go ask Kyle Larson for advice. Because, you know, I just have to ask him for advice. And then it’d be easy from there. But you know, definitely. I talked to him, obviously, before I did it. But, you know, until you go and do it, it’s so different from what we do. And it’s so outside of my comfort zone.

There’s a lot of adapting and learning. And kind of a lot went on too with just fighting some racecar gremlins and made for a busy couple of weeks. But yeah, I definitely leaned on him as much as I could and appreciate his advice. I think it’s much more natural and kind of comfortable and in his wheelhouse than it is for me. So I was kind of starting from scratch there. But, I definitely had a lot of fun.

Tiongson : Sometimes, you got to step out of your comfort zone to have some fun. And it sounds like you definitely did with a familiar partner in Ally and also getting good advice from your teammate, who, by the way, I know he got his contract extension.

But I also know that recently, it was announced, too, that you’ll be racing for Hendrick Motorsports for another two more years with the No. 48 team. So, what does it mean to you to know that you’re going to be able to continue to build upon what you’ve done with Hendrick not only since 2016, but to be with the No. 48 team again?

Bowman : Yeah, it’s definitely great to be able to get that squared away and know that I’m going to be there for the next couple of years and have Mr. H and everybody at Ally and Hendrick Motorsports have faith in me to keep driving the No. 48 car is really awesome.

So, it’s been a lot of fun work with Ally this year and you know some of the things we’ve been able to do have been really cool. And I’m excited to continue that into the future.

Tiongson : It’s great to see the team securing not only you know Kyle being with the team a little bit longer, but it just seems like Hendrick overall has a really strong lineup all across the board. And to have that especially with the great year of change that is looming around the corner with the Next Gen car. So, it’s pretty cool to have all of those secure in the coming years.

Now, it was really cool to see that patriotic paint scheme that was ran during the Coca-Cola 600 that honored the late Marine Captain Matthew Brewer. What was it like for you to pay homage to him? And seeing the 38 Challenge that was established by his brother Brandt McCartney in his honor?

Markedly, Alex Bowman paid tribute to the late U.S. Marine Captain Matthew H. Brewer. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Markedly, Alex Bowman paid tribute to the late U.S. Marine Captain Matthew H. Brewer. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Bowman : Yeah, it was really cool to be able to do that. You know, every year, it’s special, when we get to do those things. But, you know, this year being able to meet his family, to meet his brother Brandt, and to kind of have them all out at the race, have them at the shop before the race and all that, it means a lot.

It doesn’t take much from us to do those things. And, you know, hopefully, it was special for them.

We’d have liked to end up four spots better than we did. But you know, to have his name on the car and be able to honor him and have his family there is always special.

So like I said, it’s really not hard from our side of things. It’s some decals and hanging out with some really cool people. And hopefully, it meant a lot to them because it’s definitely an honor to be able to put his name on the car and to carry his name on there.

Tiongson : I’m sure that top five run on a historical night for the team itself. …that was an amazing way to pay tribute to him. And so it was not just a special night for the organization as a whole, obviously, with win number 269.

To run so well and to be up there in the mix all evening long, that’s a heck of a way to pay tribute to him, for sure.

Bowman : Yeah, definitely. It was a special night, obviously, to get HMS to the top of the win list. But yeah, I mean, I think, you know, from top to bottom, I, we obviously weren’t the only ones honoring somebody’s name on a car. And a lot of people in the field from from front to back. So just appreciative for the opportunity to be able to do that. And, yeah, it’s definitely special.

Tiongson : I always enjoy seeing the NASCAR Salutes tribute. Being the son of a Navy officer, it’s just so cool to see the connection with the armed forces and NASCAR through these recent years. And not just walking the walk, but also talking that talk with that as well. So it’s always appreciated all across the board for that, to say the least.

Now, we’ve all been weathering through the pandemic. And I know there’s been some changes recently. But one of the positive changes we’ve seen is the return of fans at the racetrack. And you know, speaking on that tangent, it’s the first time you guys will be at Watkins Glen since 2019.

So, as we go through this pandemic, as carefully as possible, how much do you feed off with the energy and excitement of the fans? Especially considering how you’ll be back at Watkins Glen after a two year absence?

Recently, Alex Bowman gave his appreciation to Texas Motor Speedway race fans. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Recently, Alex Bowman gave his appreciation to Texas Motor Speedway race fans. (Photo: Sean Folsom | The Podium Finish)

Bowman : Yeah, it’s really cool to see the fans back. I think the pre race stuff without fans was definitely a little bit weird. And you know, post race, getting out of the car with nobody there was extra weird. So I’m excited to have had them back at a bunch of places.

And you know, getting back to Watkins Glen, I’m always excited to go road course racing with Hendrick Motorsports. I feel like their race cars are phenomenal. And I just got to do my job and hold up my end of the deal there.

So, you know, that’s a place that’s been a little rough on me. But, you know, I’m excited to get there and learn and try to do the best job I can there.

Tiongson : And being that it’s another show up and race weekend format, even though I’m sure Chase [Elliott] will be off to a strong start, everyone’s kind of on an equal level playing field. At least on record, knowing that you guys will just be getting to set up based on simulator work, past experiences. And who knows? You might be up there in the mix as far as I’m concerned.

Bowman : Yeah, I think so. We actually haven’t been to the simulator in a couple months. But you know, I think, being able to lean on our notes, lean on Chase’s notes from a couple wins there and the success that he’s had, we should be really strong.

You know, I feel like we’ve been strong at all the road courses. And I’ve only been improving at that program. So if we can just continue to improve at it, and like I said, kind of learn and lean on Chase a little bit there, we should be really good.

Tiongson : It’ll be exciting to see for sure if there’s that chance of a 1-2-3-4 finish again with Hendrick given how successful Chase and the organization has been as a whole with road course racing, especially next week being another road course race. So, it’s going to be the way of life for the next few weeks to say the least.

Another thing that’s kind of been a way of life lately has been mental health awareness and optimization. And they’ve been to the forefront in recent months with the likes of Naomi Osaka, F1’s Lando Norris and US gymnast Simone Biles being ambassadors of this movement.

From your standpoint, how important is mental health to you in such a demanding industry like motorsports?

"I think it's easy from the outside looking in to say a lot of people have it made." - Alex Bowman (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

“I think it’s easy from the outside looking in to say a lot of people have it made.” – Alex Bowman (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Bowman : Yeah, I think it’s really important. You know, I think it’s easy from the outside looking in to say a lot of people have it made. And, you know, it’s not hard. And it is.

You know, when everything you do is critically judged on a stage that millions of people are watching, it gets you in some tough situations sometimes. So, definitely, something that’s really important. I’m probably not as great at talking about it as a lot of people are.

But yeah, I mean, it’s definitely tough. And it’s good to see some people speaking up about it.

Tiongson : You definitely had to endure some tough times, on a personal and professional level, early in your career. But you’ve persevered through it. So I would say you have to give yourself some credit to have that mental fortitude to push through those adversities to work hard and focus on being in the position you’re in now, too.

So, like you said, you may not been the best at expressing it. But I would imagine you have been pretty sharp and keen with that to be where you are today.

Bowman : Yeah, I appreciate it. It’s definitely, you know, it wasn’t. …the first couple years in Cup weren’t a whole lot of fun. And I was ready to quit plenty of times. So, I definitely just tried to stick with it.

And I’m really glad it all worked out because it very easily could have gone the opposite way. So, I’m definitely really appreciative for where I’m at today.

Tiongson : And you’ve got the talent along the way. And it reminds me of a quote I recently heard during the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix where I think Lando Norris said something about, well, you can have all the talents in the world. But if you don’t have a good team behind you, good people around you, you’re not going to go really far, even on talent alone.

So you’ve got a good situation now. But you’re also backing up that good situation with the season you’ve been having in recent times as well. So I’m sure you’ll keep it up. And it’ll be awesome to watch you get up there again starting this weekend.

But you know, also not just mental health, this is going to be a grueling stretch to get to the playoffs. I mean, you’re securely in it. But the heat and the summertime conditions I’m sure has been something on your mind.

As one of the more physically fit drivers out there, how do you prepare for these these hard, hot and heated races where it can definitely take a lot out of you physically?

In general, Alex Bowman keeps focused in races during the long, hot summer races. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

In general, Alex Bowman keeps focused in races during the long, hot summer races. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Bowman : Yeah, absolutely, you know, we’re going the rest of the year with no breaks. And you know, a lot of hot races, it really doesn’t cool off at a lot of places we go at all for the rest of the year. So it’s definitely gonna be tough.

But for me, my program is pretty much the same all year. I do a little bit of heat training at start the summer. But kind of once you get in a rhythm with things, it’s kind of is what it is. And you just keep doing the same things.

So for me, I kind of have my normal workout program and run and cycle a lot. And that’s kind of about it.

You know, strength couple days a week, and then a bunch of cardio. So when we’re racing as much as we are, you know, like I stayed racing through the two weeks off, I think, you know, driving a race car is really the best thing for you. And I would like to race way more than I get to. But, you know, I think the physical side of it is tough.

But the mental side of it is crucial too. Just like enduring the heat and not letting it get to you because there’s no there’s no way to be comfortable in 150 degree racecar for four hours. But just not letting that get to you and kind of being in a place where you can comfortably get it out of your mind is really crucial.

Tiongson : It sounds like it’s a case of mind over matter when it comes to those extremes. And certainly, you’ve proven to be quite proficient with handling that situation because I don’t think I could do it. And that’s probably why I’m a journalist and you’re out there racing.

I dislike that position. But it’s a heck of a admiration thing to see you take it on and just persevere through it. Because I don’t know how you guys do sometimes even with the cool suits and heat training that you guys do on a consistent basis. So it’s crazy, but awesome to watch unfold.

Now, as a pet owner, although I don’t have dogs, I think it’s so cool that you’re helping animals out with Ally and the Best Friends Animal Society. So, I read up how you’re trying to help eliminate these kill shelters across the country, which devastates me when I read about them.

But you know, being a friend and buddy to Finn and Roscoe, what does it mean to help out animals and get them to find new and happy homes?

Bowman : Yeah, for sure, it’s been really cool to be able to team up with Ally and Best Friends on that. You know, for me, obviously, you know, animals are important and special. And my dogs are my best friend. So being able to try to give back a little bit and help some animals in need is really important.

You know, I think the pandemic has kind of created some situations that are pretty unfortunate. And, you know, a lot of pets got adopted really quickly. But as soon as people went back to work, a lot of pets got dumped right back off at shelters. And it’s really sad to see people do that. So just trying to help where we can.

We’re donating $1,000 from Ally and $1,000 from myself to a local shelter at every track we go for the year. And places we win, it goes to $10,000. So it’s really cool to be able to do that.

You know, it definitely sucks to see the situation like it is sometimes. And just being able to try to make that a little bit better is really cool.

Tiongson : Yeah, I thank you and Ally for doing that just because, like you said, it was people kind of shifting back to work after working from home or maybe not having a job. These animals are being neglected, sent back to the shelter. And they don’t have an advocate all the time.

So to know that you and Ally are standing up for them and speaking up for them in this capacity is really neat and touching. And I hope more people also do the same. Pay it forward for these pets out there to say the least.

One of my more lighthearted questions I have yet to ask you is what would you choose to be the definitive Alex Bowman theme song? If you had one?

Bowman : (chuckles) I don’t have a clue. I don’t feel like you’re allowed to pick stuff like that yourself. That’s why it’s like picking your own nickname. You’re just not allowed to do that. So I don’t know it probably be something really cringy because my nickname is terrible.

So it’s got to be like, fitting to that, right? Like I have the worst nickname in the Cup series. So like, it’s got to be a terrible theme song. But yeah, I don’t think I’m allowed to pick.

Tiongson : I was gonna volunteer to “Final Countdown” by Europe. But that’s been so overplayed. And I try not to call you “Bowman the Showman” and I admonish my writers when they do that. I’m like, he’s sick of it.

Let’s actually think of something better for him for a nickname since you do a lot more than show up at the racetrack. Or you’re constantly, consistently competing. So let’s retire that nickname for you.

Bowman : (laughs) Yeah, yeah, I’d be okay with that.

Tiongson : Well, we at The Podium Finish observes that wish from you. So, there’s that to say the least. I know we talked about this in May when I said, “Give me three reasons why you think you and your team can compete for the championship.”

Well, you’ve won races. And you’ve definitely built on the chemistry with you and crew chief Greg Ives not only in the past few years, but this season particularly. With the playoffs looming, tell me one reason why you think you guys can bring it home and win that championship.

Ultimately, Alex Bowman expressed confidence in himself and his No. 48 team. (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

Ultimately, Alex Bowman expressed confidence in himself and his No. 48 team. (Photo: Mike Moore | The Podium Finish)

Bowman : I feel like we perform under pressure really well. Anytime we’ve kind of been boxed in a high pressure situation or you know how to perform, I feel like we’ve been able to do that. So, you know, I think we don’t let pressure get to us.

And we’ve had some really strong runs in tough situations. And I feel like we can we can perform really well under under high pressure.

Tiongson : How about “Mr. Pressure” for your nickname because you’ve come through and you show up? Let’s advocate that for your nickname.

Bowman : (laughs) Alright.

Editor’s Notes

Special thanks to Alex Bowman for taking the time for this latest “In the Hot Seat” interview series on The Podium Finish. Also, thanks to Kelsey Schauf and Hendrick Motorsports for making this interview possible. You can keep track of Alex Bowman on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, his official website and here on TPF!

Presently, Ashley Hobbs challenges each of our fans to participate in the 38 Challenge for mental health awareness! In this case, join her challenge now by visiting this link!

If you’d like to listen to the podcast of my interview with Alex, check it out below!

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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